Jeff Koons & Ilona Staller’s (Cicciolina) “Made in Heaven”
Updated: Feb 26
You’ll either find it awful or brilliant. You may regard it as exceptional art or just see it as plain porn. There’s no middle ground or gray area with this series.
The ‘Made in Heaven’ series successfully eliminated the distinction between art & porn, broadcasting porn as genuine art, especially when made by one of the most well-known contemporary artists.
Many thought this series would lead to Jeff Koons’s downfall, but he proved them wrong. Made in Heaven helped him to become one of the most expensive living artists.
The Making of Heaven Began in 1989, it included paintings, sculptures, and prints, ranking among Koons’s most polarizing bodies of work.
The art series focuses on Koons’ relationship with famous Hungarian-Italian pornstar (turned politician) Ilona Staller, often called Cicciolina ("little chubby one"), and includes large photographs that resemble movie posters, as well as sculptures of them having sex.
The main idea was simple - to tackle the boundaries of what art was considered to be.
The motive to make Made in Heaven was derived from Koons’s examination of human behavior and how the human body is often seen as an object of guilt and shame. Koons was all about celebrating one’s own acceptance. And so was this series. Made in Heaven turned out to be a major success and was constantly talked about. This was Koons's goal after all.
Koons persuaded Staller to collaborate with him on this project after seeing her in a porn magazine, he flew to Rome and went backstage to meet her after one of her notorious stage performances involving a live snake. Their romantic relationship began during the making of Made in Heaven. They rapidly fell in love and ended up having a son called Ludwig.
However, “Made in Heaven” was not meant to last.
Long story short, they got divorced a little over a year later, and she fled to Italy, even though Koons was granted official custody of the child. During the legal custody dispute, Koons destroyed numerous artworks from the Made in Heaven series since Illona found them too pornographic (ironic much?).
But his custody battle with Cicciolina wasn’t his only legal faceoff. Throughout the years, Jeff Koons faced several lawsuits concerning his artwork. He has recently been slapped with another lawsuit on his reuse of a stage-like setting for some works made for the Made in Heaven series.
Michael Hayden claims in his lawsuit that Koons committed infringement and is therefore requesting a hold on sales of the “Made in Heaven” artworks that feature his sculpture.
In celebration of Made in Heaven's 20th anniversary, Luxembourg & Dayan chose to present a redux edition of the series. The Whitney Museum also exhibited several of the photographs on canvas in their 2014 retrospective.
Images courtesy of WIDEWALLS
Book Images courtesy of IDEA